Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: 12/12/2018


Q: Is there a maximum amount of funding for which an applicant can apply?

A: The maximum amount is not fixed but unreasonably expensive projects will not be funded, and projects that are very expensive will be scrutinised carefully considering that it may mean we can fund fewer fellowships if such a project is awarded. The budget should be commensurate with the project; a budget pro-forma is provided, and a budget justification is required. As a guide, the average total project funding in the 2017 round was $490,000 there was significant variation around this due to salary level and project expenses.

Q: Does each host organisation use its own salary levels to determine how much is requested from CSIRO?

A: Yes. Salary levels vary between organisations and this can be built into the 1:1 funding scheme.

Q: Can other partners or co-sponsors also contribute funding? 

A: Yes, projects may include a partner or co-sponsor that provides additional expertise and/or funding for the Fellowship project. A letter of support is required outlining the nature of the support. Partner/Co-Sponsor support is not compulsory, but will be viewed favourably where it aligns with and contributes to the project.

Q: Can Research Assistants be listed as an eligible expense under personnel?

A: Expenditures which align with these rules are acceptable. Worth noting is that extra salaries on a proposal tend to add significantly to the cost, and ‘Projects that have a large operating budget will be scrutinised carefully’. Note also that a budget justification is required for each budget line, and that provides an opportunity to explain why the expense is required for the project. Also not that project budget alone will not affect assessment of the application, although the review panel may recommend cutting a budget if it is seen as unreasonably high. If this then affects the feasibility of the project, that may be an issue; however if the panel feels that the project is still worth funding they can request a variation in the project details.

Host Organisation

Q: Can CSIRO be a Host Organisation?

A: No. Host Organisations are non-CSIRO organisations; however a CSIRO Mentor is required for each application. Fellows will have a Visiting Scientist appointment at CSIRO and may spend part of their Fellowship project within CSIRO as part of the project collaboration if appropriate for the project.


Q: The fellowships will be announced before my PhD is awarded. I have submitted my thesis for assessment, or I am about to submit my thesis for assessment, but (obviously) I cannot guarantee that it will be awarded by 1st July 2019. Am I eligible?

A: Yes, you are eligible to apply. However, you will need to provide a letter of support from your PhD supervisor that includes a statement describing what stage the thesis assessment is at, and when it is expected that the thesis will be awarded. Applicants may be asked to provide undergraduate and postgraduate transcripts in addition to their CV in these cases.

Q: Does part-time work count as a contribution to decreased FTE?

A: Yes, part time work can be counted towards a decreased FTE for the purposes of determining FTE commitment after PhD award, as long as it falls under eligible categories as per the funding rules:  carer’s responsibility; disruption due to international relocation for post-doctoral studies or other research employment not exceeding three months per international relocation; illness; maternity or parental leave; unemployment and/or non-research employment not concurrent with research employment

Q: If an academic wishes to apply to be a part time Fellow, asking for PT salary with the host institution providing matching funding of her salary and other operating costs, would that be considered cash contribution and matched funding?

A: Fellowships may be held on a part time basis under the following conditions:

  • if the recipient is fulfilling family and/or carer responsibilities, or in the case of illness interfering with full time work
  • Including interruptions and any periods of part-time employment, fellowships must be completed within 6 years of the start date
  • The Fellowship may also be converted to (or from) part-time at any time to enable the Fellowship recipient to fulfil family and/or carer responsibilities

Essentially, it is expected that a work package equivalent to 3 years full time would be executed over the course of the fellowship, and that it would be completed within 6 years from the start date.

If there was a program of work planned, for example, at 0.5 FTE over 6 years, and the conditions above are met, that is acceptable. In this case, the project would cost half as much per annum, and yes, the university would only need to provide 50 % of that funding.

Part time requests should be explained in the application, and this should be done in the budget justification section. It might also be appropriate to flag this in the proposal section so it’s clear that the project will be executed on a part time basis.


Q: Can I have more than two mentors?

A: Yes. You must have at least one mentor at CSIRO and one in your host organisation, but you are welcome to involve more people to support your project

Q: Do all my mentors have to fill in the CV form?

A: Yes. All Applicants and Mentors must provide a CV form. Other national and international collaborators do not have to provide a CV, unless they play a central part in the project; in these cases, a CV is required to demonstrate capacity to support the project. Such people will normally be listed as additional Mentors.

Q: Does acting as a CSIRO mentor now preclude future mentoring of SynBio FSP applicants (e.g. is there a max number)?

A: No, there are no restrictions on the number of mentees a host mentor can mentor.

Letter of Support

Q: Are letters of support needed for additional CSIRO mentors?

A: You need a letter of support from each person involved in the project. This ensures that each proponent/supporter is aware of and committed to their role in the project.


Q: Who can organise to get the signature from the Director/Science Director of Business (CSIRO)?

A: Your CSIRO Mentor can obtain the appropriate signature for you.

Q: I am unable to get the signature from the Director/Science Director of Business (CSIRO) before submission – is an email endorsement OK?

A: Emailed endorsements are fine.

Start Date

Q: Can I start the Fellowship before the proposed Fellowship Start date?

A: Yes, you can start as soon as the contract is executed. You need to notify your Host Organisation and the SynBio FSP.